Warriors' Patrick Baldwin Jr. a 'lottery talent,' Jay Bilas believes

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Bilas: Dubs nabbed 'lottery talent' with Baldwin at No. 28 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

STATELINE, Nev. -- The general skepticism surrounding Patrick Baldwin Jr., linked to unimpressive college statistics and a poor performance at the NBA draft combine, didn’t scare the Warriors.

They liked the 6-foot-9 forward enough to select him in the first round (No. 28 overall) of the draft last month.

Longtime ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas also likes Baldwin and believes the Warriors could not have made a smarter choice.

“He’s an extraordinarily talented player,” Bilas told NBC Sports Bay Area at the American Century golf tournament last week for the latest "Dubs Talk" episode. “He’s got all the measurables, everything that would indicate that he’s going to have a really good NBA career.

“He was a value pick. You’re not going to get a player of that talent where Golden State got him.”

Bilas is not blind to the issues that adversely affected Baldwin’s draft status. He was a consensus top-five national recruit out of the Milwaukee area in 2021 but sustained a left ankle injury early in his freshman season and played very poorly upon his return.

That did not prevent Baldwin from declaring himself eligible -- and remaining so after a surprisingly unimpressive showing at the combine.

Bilas, however, has faith in the 19-year-old’s talent, which is why Duke and several other powerhouse schools were pursuing Baldwin, who ultimately decided to play for his father at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“You can call it a flyer, if you want,” he said. “But you’re not going to get a player at that talent level at that spot. They got a lottery talent at 28. That’s a good risk to take. He’s got a chance to be really, really good if he stays healthy.”

Baldwin’s lingering ankle problems kept him out of California Classic Summer League activity last week in San Francisco and have rendered him questionable for the Las Vegas Summer League, which runs through July 17.

That troublesome ankle, however, might top the list of reasons Baldwin was available late in the first round.

“I think you take the relatively low risk,” Bilas said. “What would Golden State have taken there? It’s not like they’d get an equivalent talent. They’d get somebody who’s a little bit more mature, maybe, or someone whose floor may be a little bit higher -- but his ceiling is not as high as Patrick Baldwin Jr.”

RELATED: Baldwin Jr. ready to 'prove' he belongs in summer league

Among the players with whom Baldwin has been projected to compare are former Warriors forward Harrison Barnes and Jalen Johnson, who was drafted by Atlanta last summer and split his rookie season between the Hawks and their G League affiliate.

The most frequent comparison, however, is to Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. Though he is a terrific shooter, back woes -- including three surgeries -- have limited him to 125 games over the first four seasons of his career.

The talent Baldwin showcased in high school made him too appealing for the Warriors to pass up. He was, based on upside, the best player available.

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